the four-year scarf

What’s the longest it has ever taken you to knit a scarf? My record so far is four years and seven months. I started said scarf in March 2009 and finished it last week. I would like to add, for the record, that I haven’t actually been knitting solidly all that time, in case anyone was beginning to worry that I really am a hopelessly lost cause. The actual time spent knitting the scarf was just a tiny fraction of those fifty-five long months; I’m sure I spent far more of that time knitting anything and everything else (for instance, most recently I’ve created a whole lace shawl from start to finish in just two months of train knitting alone). I still need to sort out the fringes, as they vary wildly in length and need a haircut, but I couldn’t resist wearing this scarf out a few times already. It’s the perfect autumn scarf – just right for this blustery weather of late – and though I say it myself, it looks great against my orange jumper in the autumn afternoon sunshine. I’m so glad I finished it at such a fitting time! For anyone wondering, the scarf in question is the Lascala scarf, by Danish knitwear designer Hanne Falkenberg.

The pattern looks a lot more complicated than it is: in fact you only ever knit with one colour at once, and slip the stitches of the other colour without knitting them. Simple as that is, I still managed to cock up a couple of things. Firstly, due to the enormous time lapse between knitting the two halves of the scarf (the pattern requires that you knit two identical strips and sew them together), my tension had relaxed so much in the meantime that the second half came out more than 10 cm longer than the first. Quite fascinating, when taken as a scientific experiment in knitting, though I’d rather I hadn’t discovered this in the process of creating a beautiful garment. But I suppose I’m lucky that this wasn’t a jumper, where the result might have been unwearable. Secondly, my 3 mm circular needle managed to spirit itself away into some other knitting during the course of the second half of the scarf, so the final border had to be knitted on needles 0.5 mm bigger than it should have been – but hey, no one except me is ever going to pay this scarf that much attention, so who cares. (And thirdly, I also botched the beginning of the seam between the two halves, but you didn’t hear that, OK?) On the bright side, I don’t actually think the varying tension is at all noticeable since joining the two halves together, and nor are the other faults. Phew!

Although I really admire Hanne Falkenberg’s designs, and I would love to make another one, it irks me that you can’t just buy the patterns – you have to buy them as kits. I’m not sure why. Maybe this is an obsessive person’s method of making sure that one’s designs always turn out just how one intended them? Or it’s a better means of making a living through knitwear design, as the mark-up on the yarn produces a more viable level of income? Maybe both? Whatever the case, I’m not always as taken with the colourways that these designs come in as I am with the designs themselves, and I would prefer to have the opportunity to choose the colours that I want to use myself. So I think it will be a little while before I invest in a second project of this kind, but you never know… next time I am feeling flush with cash…

While we’re on the subject of never-ending scarves, I realised I’ve got another scarf that’s a close contender to the first: I cast on my lacy Percy shawl a mere forty months ago, in June 2010 (look! this is where that sneaky 3 mm needle got to!), and although I’m significantly further through it now than when this picture was taken, I’m nowhere near finishing yet. Setbacks in this case include: the fact that the design involves lace patterning on both sides (no purl chillout rows in this one!), an unfortunate moth attack early on in its life, and leaving such long gaps between knitting it that I think I’ve messed up the pattern and now I can’t work out how to fix it. I can’t decide what to do with this project now, and am tempted just to unravel it. Then I can see how the prospect of starting again from scratch takes me, and act accordingly.

First, though, since finishing the Lascala scarf I’ve still got 92 g leftover of the Shetland yarn that it was made from, in all seven colours, so I think a less mind-boggling plan than attacking Percy afresh would be to make a sort of matching hat. I say sort of matching, as there is no way I would ever attempt to tackle those slip stitch zigzags if I had to incorporate decreases into the mix. I’m thinking of making a Fair Isle tam kind of a hat with the leftovers, which would match insofar as it would be made from the same colours, so the two would go well together and look as though they were related. But how many months this project will take remains to be seen. Don’t hold your breath!